What are they saying? Hours of ‘chimp chat’ uploaded online

Dutch academics want to encourage research into what animals say in recordings

Ten full hours of “chimp chat” have been put up online in order to encourage more research into what the animals are saying.

Ten full hours of “chimp chat” have been put up online in order to encourage more research into what the animals are saying.

Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 18:06

Ten full hours of ‘chimp chat’ have been put up online in order to encourage more research into what the animals are saying.

This valuable resource was originally recorded the early 1970s in Tanzania, but has now been digitised and made available to help the study of chimpanzee communications.

It ranks as the largest dataset of recordings from free-living immature chimps yet collected, and includes the whole gamut of their vocalisations including grunts, hoocalls, barks and squeals.

Details of their recording are published this afternoon in the journal Scientific Data. They were collected by Dutch researchers the late Hetty van de Rijt-Plooij, and Frans Plooij at Gombe National Park, Tanzania from 1971 to 1973.

None of the recordings have been analysed for any meaning behind the hours of adolescent chimp chatter, so they could represent an important opportunity to learn whether the sounds have any real meaning, the journal suggests.

The great apes including chimps are our closest living relations. We share about 95 per cent of our DNA with chimps so it may be that there is hidden content in the sounds.

There is already extensive research into great ape vocalisations because of this and the journal points to this work. Recent studies have found there are similarities between human and chimp language including having regional dialects.

The digitised recordings are stored in the Macaulay Library at Cornell University and released via the Dryad Repository online.

The release also incudes the original notes on the contexts of the calls, now translated from the original Dutch into English.

To listen to the chimpanzee recordings go to :

https://macaulaylibrary.org/search?recordist=van%20de%20rijt%20plooij%20h&recordist_id=1330&tab=audio-list&order=catalog&page=1